Overkill – The Grinding Wheel Digipack CD or Double Vinyl LP
Armed with pioneering pure metal proposals like “Death Rider,” “The Beast Within,” and “Raise The Dead” already in 1982, New Jersey’s Overkill were a rock-solid part of the first clutch of bands forging in fire this music known as thrash metal. Along with Metallica, Exodus, Slayer and cross-town doppelgangers Anthrax, D.D. Verni and Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth were helping to create a new form of metal that is still as vibrant today as when the band’s first album, Feel the Fire was issued by Jonny Zazula’s Megaforce Records back in the spring of ’85.
Witness Overkill’s 18th album of blistering yet precise and thought-provoking thrash magic, The Grinding Wheel, a record on which thrash’s ultimate team of five machined parts shows up and executes to perfection… with a little punk thrown in for bad measure.
But a life dedicated to metal can be a grind, hence the title of this sparks-a-flyin’ record. “It just makes sense for us,” reflects D.D. “If you’ve been making metal for almost 40 years like we have, it can be a grind. But we also liked the old school metal idea of referencing “Grinder,” the Judas Priest song, which suits the album because it has classic metal parts on it as well as the thrash parts. There’s a blue collar feel to that title too, and that’s how we approach Overkill. The guitar case is basically a lunchbox and we go to work.”
Despite,the album’s classic metal references (such as Black Sabbath in “Come Heavy” and Iron Maiden in “The Long Road” and the epic and cinematic title track), when the band gets up a full head of thrash steam, they bring to the party a trademark punk aesthetic, forged from trips on the train to CBGB and Max’s Kansas City to witness original punk legends such as The Damned and The Dead Boys.At the other end of the spectrum from punk is a song like “The Long Road.” D.D. readily agrees that there was a Maiden influence as part of this one’s crafting. “Oh yeah, for sure. The opening, along with a little section in there with the vocals, definitely feels like New Wave of British Heavy Metal.
More evident in the band’s panoramic classic metal passages, but even articulated here on “Our Finest Hour,” is another storied Overkill trademark, the definition one gets in the band’s bass parts. Combine this with the Mensa-like percussive wizardry of Ron Lipnicki (laid bare for all to hear at headphone levels through the smack of his gravity-defying double bass work), and The Grinding Wheel emerges as a record with a remarkable rhythm section foundation from which to rise.
After heaping all manner of praise on legendary producer Andy Sneap (brought on only for mix given Verni’s proven acumen at the task), D.D. further clarifies the reason Overkill can be at the top of their game 18 records into their distinguished run.
“I have a studio and I did most of it at my place; I’ve been doing it that way for a while now. And now the group of guys we have in the band has been pretty consistent for a while. So we have a nice mix; everybody kind of knows their role, and is good at their role. Everybody brings a little something to the party. And I think that’s why these last couple of records… people ask, ‘How is it that your records get better after 25 years?’ And I think part of it is that everybody has a role in the band, everybody is comfortable with their role, and they’re really good at the part they have. So the records actually get better. It’s like having a team, instead of having a whole bunch of chiefs and no Indians.
“For sure,” asserts Blitz. “One of the things with regard to grind, with regard to four decades of Overkill, it’s good to be here, but it’s obviously earned, not just by us but by the people that support this in general. The fact is that it’s not just us grinding it out. I mean, maybe it is when it comes to the studio and writing and recording songs, from that selfish perspective. But the reason something exists for decades is based on group effort. Like we had talked about earlier with ‘Our Finest Hour,’ people are stronger together. In that light, this band is, let’s say, not just our project, but it’s a project by and for all those who hold it dear.”
Limited Edition Digipack CD
1. Mean, Green, Killing Machine
2. Goddamn Trouble
3. Our Finest Hour
4. Shine On
5. The Long Road
6. Let’s All Go To Hades
7. Come Heavy
8. Red, White And Blue
9. The Wheel
10. The Grinding Wheel
11. Emerald (bonus track)
Limited Edition Double Gatefold Vinyl
- Mean, Green, Killing Machine
- Goddamn Trouble
- Our Finest Hour
- Shine On
- The Long Road
- Let’s All Go To Hades
- Come Heavy
- Red, White And Blue
- The Wheel
- The Grinding Wheel